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MediaWatch:Magazines
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Can Bush Compare to Saddam?
Canadian Magazine Causes Stir With Controversial Cover
09/24/2007 10:05 AM ET
Maclean's editors must have planned to spark a little stir with their October cover story: "How Bush Became the New Saddam" by Patrick Graham.

Upon reading the piece in this Canadian magazine, however, it seems the most provocative thing about it is its controversial title and digitally-manipulated illustration of President Bush in Saddam mustache, beret, and military garb.

The effect of such a cover leads one to expect a leftist diatribe about the brutality of methods the US military has adopted in Iraq, or a condemnation of the number of detainees being held in American-run detainee centers without due process.

But Graham's main point of comparison between Bush and Saddam is far less controversial, and relies on the pragmatism of adopting a policy to combat the influence of Iran inside Iraq.

In one of the story's key passages, Graham writes:

When Gen. David Pet­raeus, commander of the multinational force in Iraq, appeared before Congress with Ambassador Crocker to testify about the results of President Bush’s “surge” strategy, he talked a lot about these tribal militias and the success of Anbar. It is the only progress the U.S. has made in Iraq for years. It’s unclear whether the additional 30,000 troops that make up the surge have had much effect on the Anbar Awakening. But watching Gen. Petraeus, I was struck by how familiar his words sounded. The general talked like every Sunni I’ve ever met in Iraq—hell, he sounded a bit like Saddam. The old tyrant would have had one of his characteristic chest-heaving guffaws watching Petraeus as he intoned the old Baathist mantra about the dangers to Iraq: Iran, Iran, Iran. Bush took up Gen. Petraeus’s views a few days later in a nationally televised speech about Iraq, in which he talked about the threat Tehran posed. It seems that Petraeus and Bush have come to the same conclusion as Saddam: the main enemy is Iran, and you can’t govern Iraq without the Sunni Arab tribes, even as you encourage anti-Iranian nationalism among the Shia. This is what Saddam did during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, and what Washington is trying to do now.

Graham's piece doesn't break any new ground, but his editors sure knew how to frame his writing to generate discussion about their magazine.

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